“Well, now, if that’s the case, I reckon I can go down to Hargis’s and buy me a new pipe, Buddy; and I—I’ll be switched if I don’t do it right now.”
And in such gladsome easing of the strain were the wheels of Chiawassee Consolidated oiled to their new whirlings on the road to fortune. If Caleb Gordon remembered how the miracle had been wrought, he said no word to clench his disapproval; and as for Tom—ah, well; it was not the first time in the history of the race that the end has served to justify the means—to make them clean and white and spotless, if need were.
If Tom Gordon could have known how slightly the Dabney’s European plans coincided with those of the Farleys, he might have had fewer heartburnings in those intervals when the harassing struggle for industrial existence gave him time to think of Ardea.
As a strict matter of fact, the voyage across, and some little guide-book touring of England, were the sum total of coincidence. On leaving London the Farleys set out on the grand tour which was to land them in Naples for the winter, while the Dabneys went directly to Paris and to a modest pension in the Rue Cambon to spend the European holiday in a manner better befitting the purse of a country gentleman.
So it befell that by the time Miss Eva Farley was rhapsodizing over the Rhine castles in twenty-page letters, boring Ardea a little, if the truth must be told, the Dabneys had settled down to their quiet life in the French capital. Ardea was anxious to do something with her music under a Parisian master—and was doing it. The Major found melancholy pleasure in reviewing at large the city of his son’s long exile; and Miss Euphrasia came and went with one or the other of her cousins, as the exigencies of chaperonage or companionship constrained her.
In such moderate pleasuring the French summer began for the Major and his charges; so it continued, and so it ended; and late in September they began to talk about going home.
“We really mean it this time,” wrote Ardea in a letter to Martha Gordon. “I confess we are all a little homesick for America, and Paradise, and dear old Deer Trace Manor. The Farleys are settled for the remainder of the year or longer in a fine old palazzo on the Bay of Naples, and we have a very pressing invitation to go and help them inhabit it. But thus far we have not been tempted beyond our strength. Major Grandpa is talking more and more pointedly about the Morgan mares, and is growing a habit of comparison-drawing in which America profits at the expense of Europe; so I suppose by the time you are reading this we shall have made our sailing arrangements. Nevertheless, the Naples invitation is dying hard. Eva seems to have set her heart on having us for the winter.”
Ardea’s figure of speech was no figure. The palazzo-sharing invitation did die hard; and when Miss Farley’s letters failed, Mr. Vincent Farley made a journey to Paris for the express purpose of persuading the Dabneys to reconsider. Miss Euphrasia was neutral. The Major was homesick for a sight of his native Southland, but for Ardea’s sake he generously concealed the symptoms—or thought he did. So the decision was finally left to Ardea.